This is a picture that should be framed in crime scene tape.
The March 2012 Photo of the Month by Wade Payne shows the remains of Kayford Mountain in West Virginia where surface mining since 1986 has brought the mountain down. The people who live there, like Larry Gibson whose family has lived on Kayford for more than 200 years, describes how he now looks down on a hole where he used to look up at the graceful slope of a mighty mountain.
This travesty has got to be one of the worst environmental atrocities committed by humankind, yet it continues. The enormous impacts on land, air, water and every living thing alone should never have been allowed. To so drastically alter this ancient, amazingly bio diverse landscape is simply unbelievable. That it is expanding onto new mountains is heartbreaking.
Already more than 500 mountains in Appalachia have been heavily damaged or destroyed by this method of mining. Like the shock and awe of the Iraq war, explosives roar across a four-state region. The “overburden” of trees, rocks and once living things are dumped into surrounding streams in a relentless, non-stop holocaust of epic proportions. That this activity is legal, defended by local, state and national officials, is unconscionable. Leave out the environmental impact, and still this practice has huge negative impacts on health, wealth and future financial prospects – impoverishing the very region whose political leaders spare no effort to protect and expand it.
Curious to find some rationale other than profit, I looked at web pages and media releases of coal companies. Arch Coal promotes its outreach effort in the bottom corner of its facts and figures shareholder comfort zone. A photo of a school group lined up in front of a giant earthmover truck proclaimed its EARTH DAY event at an elementary school in West Virginia where it gave children a tree seedling to take home and plant. View the school’s location on a satellite map and it sits in the middle of a moonscape of scarred earth – like radical surgery on a cancer-ridden body – the corpse of Logan County.
Future peoples will look at these massive scars and wonder what madness could sanction this crime. That healthy forest, inspiring mountains, free flowing pure water, the diverse and bountiful life of entire ecosystems is wasted for a relatively tiny seam of dirty coal is depraved.
Stop Mountaintop Removal.